Follow-up interview after DIGGIT. Marketing Magazin Slovenia asks a few questions about the digital native, the mobile boom and how to move forward.

Eleftherios was asked to answer a few short questions following up my keynote presentation at DIGGIT 2012. We are more than happy to share this exclusive interview with you first. It will be published in a Slovenian publication shortly. Be the first to read Lefti`s answers:

Marketing Magazin (MM): At DIGGIT you spoke about the influence of digital natives and the mobile explosion. How can businesses harvest these two trends that will have a considerable influence on the future of digital marketing? What kind of action should businesses take?

Eleftherios Hatziioannou (EH): During my presentation at Diggit I did indeed emphasize the role of the digital native and the mobile boom as accelerators of the new media revolution. I do believe that due to the fact that the younger generations act and communicate differently – marketing and business in general has to change. They are not only consumers and thereby part of our (future) target groups but also team members and thereby part of our (future) workforce. When we design marketing campaigns or build future working environments we`ll have to consider their behavior, lifestyle and needs. Of course they use certain devices (e.g. smartphones) and spend a considerable time on new media before making a purchase decision. They are also influenced by their friends (social graph).

So, what should you do about it?

Make it easy for them to find and share information about your brand, product/service in new media, be present on the relevant online platforms (e.g. social networks) and engage with them there, make sure that your content is accessible via all devices by either optimizing existing digital content for mobile or developing dedicated mobile apps (for smartphones/tablets). On the collaboration side – I think it is very clear that we all have to create more open and advanced working environments which learn from the new technologies: e.g. sharing, liking, following, commenting, rating should be part of our daily business within organizations as well. One last simple but very helpful advice: Involve younger colleagues and ask for their opinion!

MM: What can companies do to adjust to the digital trends internally? With what kind of internal changes should they implement so they will be – as a brand – more effective, successful and popular?

EH: Talking about internal changes needed – I do believe that we are talking about a cultural change which has to take place. And culture has to change from the top! It is important that leadership expresses a clear comittment to the “new” way of doing things. And this starts by walking the talk! As difficult as it seems for some people at a certain age – they should make time to understand and “play” with the new media and devices. What does this mean exactly? Management should start using tablets/smartphones, engage on social media platforms, look into web monitoring reports to understand what people think/say about their product/service online, implement new collaborative technologies like yammer – a twitter-like solution which is meant to be used within organizations/enterprises. By the way: Something that always works in a magical way is to sit a desk with your CEO and google his name and just wait and see what comes up. I promise you`ll have his/her attention!;)

And of course we have to direct resources towards these efforts. Change needs to be managed and it does not happen over night by hiring a new agency. It is important to define new roles/responsibilities internally and use some of the available budgets to make change happen. It means to create internal guidelines, run training programmes for your staff and to build up the required know how within your organization. A great best practice example I used during my presentation at DIGGIT was Burberry. Angela Ahrendts (CEO) started a few years ago to turn the traditional fashion brand into a powerful innovation machine by applying new technologies across the whole value chain and engaging with consumers across all media. She said recently: “During this economic downturn the more we put our brand out there and engage with consumer across all media and platforms – the more we`ll be able to weather the storm…” The only additional comment to this statement I want to make is: AMEN! You can watch the full interview here.

MM: What will the future look like? What kind of changes and progress do you expect in the area of digital communications by the end of 2013?

EH: I am not fortune teller but I can try to give some of my predictions:

1. Social Media usage will peak across all regions and continents and we`ll see even older generation adapt new media, 2. Mobile devices will turn into the main tool of communication and will become like a Swiss knife in our pockets which helps us in many situations, 3. We`ll see a more connected lifestyle in general beyond mobile, e.g. social TV or cloud services being used by more and more people making digital content omni-present.

With all these developments we`ll also see more businesses turning into social enterprises by using new technologies from open innovation in R&D to customer service in aftersales. Hopefully – we`ll see more resources invested in new media which will be used to integrate on- and offline activities in a smart and value adding way for users/customers. Why I say smart? Because I still see not very smart things happening due to the lack of know how and expertise, e.g. sending a QR code via sms/mms or putting it on a billboard next to a highway – where people won`t be able to use it properly. How can you read a QR code on the screen of your phone? How can you scan a QR code driving at high speed? It think it`s clear what I want to say. It`s not only about following all the new trends. It`s about doing the right things in a meaningful way which means to enrich or simplify the life of our customer. And one thing all marketers have to learn is that we need to LISTEN more and talk less. Web monitoring solutions provide us with lots of great data about our customers and their needs. We should not miss this opportunity to consider these data in our efforts.

I wish good luck for your endeavours! I am happy to answer your questions. Come and join us on Facebook!

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